Much like I found myself interested in Carmelo Hayes’ first championship challenger, the same goes for Tiffany Stratton. And this week’s battle royal proved surprising because even if you gave me the best odds in the world, I never saw this coming:
Now, when I say that, it’s not a diss. I like Thea’s character a lot and think she has potential. But she also needs more reps within NXT. I say that as someone not watching NXT Level Up, so forgive me if she’s working a lot on that show. Going from what I know, however, paints the picture of someone who isn’t quite on Tiffany’s level. At least not yet. Putting Tiffany and Thea also defies logic because giving the champion their first feud with someone seasoned generally makes more sense. That’s one of many reasons I picked Dana Brooke or even Fallon Henley.
Yes, Dana Brooke entered the battle royal since she, like Baron Corbin and Ali, has free agent status. Dana, who regretfully didn’t interact with
Reggie Scrypts, lasted right into the battle royal’s final moments. Dana, Cora Jade, Fallon Henley, and Kiana James squared off in what we thought represented the final women.
Fallon eliminated Kiana and gave her a “Yee-Haw, bitch” for good measure. I love when she says that and love their eternal beef. Cora eliminated Fallon, much to my dismay, and that seemingly left Cora and Dana. But then Thea resurrected in a bit of smart storytelling.
Lash Legend roughed up Thea earlier in the match. But Thea never went over the top rope. The match continued while officials checked on Thea and nursed her back to health. On the real? I completely forgot about her. Her reappearance started with Chase U cheering her name, to which I asked “Why?” Then she slowly rose up near the ring apron, walked in the ring with nothing but an attitude and momentum by her side.
To make a long story short, Thea eliminated Cora and Dana after a serious of team-ups and double-team moves.
A surprising victory but one that makes sense based on the opponent.
From a character standpoint and story standpoint, Thea presents possibly the best opponent for Tiffany. Tiffany is a spoiled rich girl who talks in acronyms and considers herself the center of the universe. Thea is a high school grad who loves wrestling, works hard, and wears her emotions on her sleeves. Although she doesn’t wear shirts with sleeves so just work with me on that one.
They're polar opposites. One worked for everything she has while the other waltzed into fame and fortune. One has no problem sitting in the cheer section while the other it’s sinful cheering for anyone other than her. That dichotomy creates an interesting dynamic going into their championship match. While I believe a match between Tiffany and Fallon or Dana might impress me more, the actual story with those pales in comparison to Thea’s tale.
Chase U is a movement in NXT. This puts them in a main event spot, while also moving forward this story that Chase U under Duke Hudson has more success than when under Andre Chase. Even if Thea loses, which she will, Duke will claim this as a victory for his stewardship. It’s also a big step for someone who just a few months ago broke down crying because of whatever mind games Ava and Schism played on her. Speaking of which, did we ever find out what Ava did?
Anyway, this works narratively. It’s risky but it’s still developmental. Put Thea in a big spot and let her sink or swim.
Ask any Chase U student and they’ll remind you that experience remains the best teacher. Even better than Duke.
Diamond Mine is the better team. That’s the bottomline in this story between them and Schism. Schism got the win but only after Ava’s chicanery.
The match built to a confrontation between Ava and Ivy Nile. I mean, that’s the whole reason we’re here. And we finally got it when all the men wiped each other out and Ava had no choice but to fight.
Ava certainly isn’t a natural. She moved awkwardly in the ring and had no fluidity. She’ll get there with more reps but in that context, I get why they saved her for the end and didn’t devote much time to her big clash with Ivy.
Besides that, the match rocked. Julius and Brutus are incredible in the ring. These cats actually handed off another grown man to each other while holding him in the Vertical Suplex position. And then did reps! I don’t know what else to say about that or how to say it better but I’m sure I’m not doing it justice.
Blair Davenport vs. Dani Palmer basically went the way I expected. And the way it should.
Blair dominated Dani in a story of a seasoned vet against someone still wet behind the ears. Dani made Blair look scary and Blair did what she does best. Dani fought for her best friend and lost decisively. That says a lot about Blair in that no matter how much motivation Dani put in her bag, Blair still decimated her.
I’m torn on Baron Corbin’s match with Trick Williams. Actually, before we even get to that, let’s talk about Baron’s motivation for showing up in NXT.
Long and short of it, it’s the same beef Baron had when he showed up on the main roster years ago: He believes the wrestlers are soft and entitled kids who rather tweet than get better.
He wants Carmelo Hayes because he believes NXT needs a new and better leader. Ilja Dragunov showed up and said Baron needs to get behind him because he wants a shot at the NXT Championship. While a fight between those two might happen (more on that later), Trick Wiliams wanted his fight this week. Trick attacked Baron as punishment for Baron sneak attacking his best friend. And I love that aspect of Trick and Melo’s relationship. They truly made these two brothers who ride together and die together (bad boys 4 life).
We got a solid match out of it. Going one-on-one with someone like Corbin only helps Trick. Corbin barely beat Trick, but did so in a way that speaks to his vet status and smarts. That said, I have an issue with the execution even though I like the idea.
Trick hurt his knee early in the match after a nasty confrontation between said knee and the commentary table. Baron worked on that knee but Trick moved pretty well. It didn’t hobble him and he even hit several moves using that leg with the “bum” knee.
But then the knee suddenly gave out when Trick went for his finisher, which gave Baron the opening for the victory.
Again, I get it. The right man won and they saved Trick in the process. But just execute it a bit better next time. Cool? Cool.
We finally got a name for Noam Dar, Jakara Jackson, Lash Legend, and Oro Mensah: The Meta-Four.
I don’t hate it. I also don’t love it either. I remain open to seeing what they do with the name and the group. But when I thought it was “The Metaphor” I hated it. Just keeping it real.
I didn’t dig the match between Scrypts and Daba Kano. I like the intrigue of Axiom coming to Scrypts’ aid and those two potentially teaming against the big man. But as for the match itself? Meh. But Daba destroyed both men after he took an L from Scrypts, so he’s clearly motivated.
Wow. I didn’t expect Mustafa Ali to beat Joe Gacy so quickly. Seriously, I barely sat down to type anything and the match ended.
But I get why. The rest of Schism attacked Ali after the match, which brought Wes Lee & Tyler Bate to the ring. I like the continuity with Wes & Tyler’s friendship, and it plays on the fact Wes is such an Ali fan. Before the match, Wes even offered Ali a title shot but Ali declined because he wants to earn that position. That also harkens back to the fact Wes respects people who keep it real with him about their intentions.
Joe clearly didn’t like losing but he detests what he calls a fake friendship of convenience between Wes & Tyler. Trouble’s on the horizon for Schism because their leader took two big Ls back to back and I don’t see another win coming any time soon.
Remember when I said we’ll get to Ilja? It’s a few beats above this one if you don’t remember. Trust me, I said it.
After he approached Baron, Ilja found himself on the wrong end of Bron Breakker’s temper. Bron put Ilja out of action and we never got an update on his status. Bron addressed it as the credits rolled and kept it simple: Ilja isn’t the toughest man in NXT and he checked him on that.
But then Bron did something completely unexpected: Challenged Seth Rollins to a World Heavyweight Championship match.
Bron’s logic is sound: Seth calls himself the workhorse and a fighting champion, well come to Florida and put the title on the line in a very familiar environment.
I didn't see that coming at all. I still don’t know how I feel about it either because I’m still wrapping my head around the fact it happened. Certainly a big way to end the show.
I really enjoyed NXT this week. The show started hot and kept that momentum going for two hours. We set up several matches for next week, several things down the line, got a look at Tony D behind a glass wall, Tiffany Stratton’s first challenger, and Bron choosing violence more than once.
I consider that a win.